leadershipIt’s probably no news to most people who work that poor leaders produce disgruntled, unengaged employees. Harvard Business Review research also shows convincingly that great leaders do the opposite — that is, that they produce highly committed, engaged, and productive employees.

And the difference is huge- in a study of 160,576 employees working for 30,661 leaders at hundreds of companies around the world, it was found that the average commitment scores in the bottom quarter for those unfortunate enough to work for the worst leaders (those leaders who had been rated in the bottom 10th percentile by their bosses, colleagues, and direct reports on 360 assessments of their leadership abilities).

By contrast, average commitment scores for those fortunate enough to work for the best leaders (those rated in the 90th percentile) soared to the top 20th percentile. Simply put, the people working for the really bad leaders were unhappy than three quarters of the group; the ones working for the really excellent leaders were more committed than eight out of ten of their counterparts.

Types of Leaders

What exactly grows employee engagement? HBR observed two common, and very different, approaches. On the one hand are leaders called “Drivers”; on the other, there are those leaders called “Enhancers.”

Drivers are very good at establishing high standards of excellence, getting people to stretch for goals that go beyond what they originally thought possible, keeping people focused on the highest priority goals and objectives, doing everything possible to achieve those goals, and continually improving.

Enhancers, by contrast, are very good at staying in touch with the issues and concerns of others, acting as role models, giving honest feedback in a helpful way, developing people, and maintaining trust.

Which Is Best?

When people were asked in an informal survey, which was most likely to increase engagement, the vast majority opted for the Enhancer approach. Most leaders we’ve coached have told us that they believe the way to increase employee commitment was to be the “nice guy or gal.”

This is not surprising to many people who assume that most employees don’t respond well to pushy or demanding leaders. But those working for those they judged as effective Enhancers were even less engaged (well, slightly less). Only 6.7% of those scored in the top 10% in their levels of engagement.

The analysis suggested that neither approach is sufficient in itself. Rather, both are needed to make real headway in increasing employee engagement. In fact, 68% of the employees working for leaders they rated as both effective Enhancers and Drivers scored in the top 10% on overall satisfaction and engagement with the organization.

Leaders with highly engaged employees know how to demand a great deal from employees, but are also seen as considerate, trusting, collaborative, and great developers of people.


The lesson then is that those of you who consider yourself to be Drivers should not be afraid to be the “nice guy or gal.” And all of you aspiring nice guys or gals should not view that as incompatible with setting demanding goals. The two approaches are like the oars of a boat. Both need to be used with equal force to maximize the engagement of employees under your direct report.



Marketing 3Every day I am bombarded with clever headlines designed to grab my attention. In an inbox full of advertising and information, every message has to work extremely hard to get noticed. Here are just a few example from today . . . .

“How to Make $100K/yr”

“90 Day Double Your Income Challenge”

“Marketing Secrets of the ‘Buttlifter’“ (not a typo)

“See YOUR Traffic Grow Right Before Your Eyes”

“6 Ways to Kill a Business”

As the world of advertising becomes more and more competitive, advertising becomes more and more sophisticated. The basic principles remain the same–

  • Here is what we have to offer
  • Here is what it will do for you
  • Here is how to get it

But you need to grab and keep the prospects attention, and then get them to take the action you desire, such as buying your product or visiting your website.

First, Become Your Prospect

Stop thinking like a marketer and start thinking like a prospect. You need to get into the prospect’s mind and influence them more effortlessly than ever before. Your goal is to have your prospects feel an instant bond, and respond favorably to your perfectly matched message. So where do you start? Start by answering the following questions:

1. Clearly define what your exact market is?

Most people overstate what their market really is, so first clearly identify what your USP (Unique Sales Proposition) really is. In other words what uniquely sets you apart from your competitors in the marketplace? What are you known for in the marketplace? What are your customer/clients biggest desire? What does your prospective customer/client really want? Please don’t overstate the obvious like: We give great service. Call your best customers and find out WHY they use your product or service and how they found you.

2. Why do they really want that?

Remember, it is not just what could happen, but what you could give them . . . more money, less stress and more freedom. In my practice I have found that the typical business owner’s challenges fall into these buckets: Team, Time and Money.

3. What is their biggest problem or frustration?

What is their biggest frustration and obstacle that is really holding them and their business back?

4. How is that impacting them emotionally?

Get very specific emotions here, as well as the situation.

5. Imagine your Prospect

Imagine your prospect as their mind is consumed with the desire to experience the ultimate outcome you listed. Start by asking . . . “If I could only just . . . .”

6. Your ideal customer/client

Is your ideal customer/client a man or woman, or both? What is their age? What do they do for a living? What do they look like? Where do they live? Where do they shop? Who does the shopping? Is it location, price, or product/service?


Grab and keep people’s attention with a subject line and title, wrapped around their pain or the intended outcome (benefit). In other words, create AIDA . . .

– Attention/Attract

Use powerful words, or a picture that will catch the reader’s eye and make them stop and read what you have to say.

– Interest

This is one of the most challenging stages: You’ve got the attention of your reader/viewer, but how can you engage with them so that they’ll want to spend their precious time understanding your message in more detail?

– Desire

As you are building the reader’s interest, help them understand how your product or service can help them. One way of doing this is by appealing to their personal needs, wants, pain, desires or challenges.

– Action

Be very clear about what action you want your readers to take; for example, “Visit now for more information” rather than just leaving people to work out what to do for themselves.



interview 2Before interviewing a candidate for any role in your company, it is vital that you follow a sound, world-class recruiting process. That’s where an approach like the ‘Topgrading’ methodology has made a huge difference.

Studies have shown that the way most people conduct their recruiting, the hiring manager will only successfully hire an ‘A’ Player 25% of the time. Not good enough! Please note that if you follow a documented and disciplined hiring methodology, you can increase your hiring success rate to 90%. So, if you want less stress, more sleep, and better company performance, those later odds make a lot of sense.

It starts with filling out a Role Scorecard for the position, working backwards from the ultimate KPI’s and results that are expected from this position.  Use the Role Scorecard as the basis for the job advertisement.

Then you asked each candidate to fill out a Career History Form rather than looking at resumes- remember that most resumes have been sanitized of those items the applicants don’t want you to see. Furthermore, this step filters out the “tire kickers,” and gets the candidate to provide exactly what information is needed.


1.  Initial Phone Screening Interview (1 hour) using a number of pre-selected questions.

2.  Face-to-Face Tandem Interview (at least one highly structured, three-hour interview)

3.  Reference Check Interviews (with the people you specify)

We don’t have the space to go into the full details of each interviewing step – but here are the key principles:

We dig for the truth

  • We want the real truth, and we let the candidates know that we will seek verification for all claims they make.
  • We ask for tangible evidence of their individual performance.
  • We ask for their permission and assistance to contact previous bosses, colleagues, and employees.
  • We specify the people we want to speak with (hint – they’re not the “friends” listed on their resumes).
  • If there were any previous issues with past jobs, we want these to come out as soon as possible, and to be discussed openly and honestly.

Past performance is the best predictor of future performance

Ask for precise examples of where they exhibited the desired behavioral competencies (as listed on the Role Scorecard) in their past jobs. For instance:

  • Describe a time in your previous role when you . . . (e.g., dealt with a dis-satisfied customer).
  • What was the situation?
  • Who was involved?
  • What exactly did they do?
  • What did they say?
  • What exactly did YOU do? (Not what “we” or “the team” did.)
  • What was the outcome?
  • What lessons did you learn from this?

We are most interested in:

  • What actions candidates (as individuals) took in past situations
  • What tangible (and verifiable) results they achieved
  • What mistakes they made and what they learned from them
  • What their bosses, colleagues, and employees would say about them

We are NOT interested in:

  • What “we” or “the team” did
  • What they might do in some hypothetical situation
  • The true ‘A’ Player candidates will not be put off by any of this. They will have verifiable stories where they demonstrated the behavioral competencies you seek. They provide tangible evidence of results. They willingly furnish you with the names of bosses, colleagues, and employees (that you specify) for you to speak to. They have nothing to hide and can back up everything they say.

Are you worthy?

Now you need to take a look in the mirror. Are you worthy of them? Ask yourself:

  • Can you honestly provide the tools, training, systems, mentoring, and support they will need to perform to an ‘A’ Player level in this role?
  • Do you provide a fun and challenging environment that allows them to thrive and grow?
  • Are you an ‘A’ Player manager yourself? Can you prove it?


Keep this in mind . . .  You ultimately hire the employees You Deserve!!!


golfJust last week, I had a chance meeting with EVP and General Manager of a $188 million sports team (unfortunately I cannot use his name).  He was very gracious in the time he spent with this small group of business professionals, and he shared some wisdom that gave me new ideas to move some clients to the next level.

As with any athlete whether the sport is baseball, golf, basketball or hockey, a superior athlete has exceptional command of three areas:  Balance; Rhythm; Timing.  So, how can business professionals use these three commands in their business to drive it to the next level?

Business Balance:

As Sir Richard Branson say, “You can and must make time for both family and business. It is important to build a strong family life: It helps to give you a better perspective and balance in business. Moreover, a key responsibility for each generation is to bring up the next generation — and you need to be present to do this.”

How do you balance family life with the time required to set up and build a business?

1-    Make sure we had proper family holidays — time spent away from work and the office. Spending time away teaches delegation.

2-    Take yourself outside the ‘busy work’ everyday business and allow yourself to make clearer and longer-term decisions.

3-    Develop a strong bond of trust with your colleagues. This means that your team must be fully engaged and support you in their convictions in the good time and the bad times.

4-    There is a balance between being in the office and outside the company.  An entrepreneur must make sure to be seen by the staff and spend time getting their feedback and ideas. Listening to others is a key quality of a good business leader.

5-    Time off should be important to you. To keep yourself and your staff motivated and healthy, it is important to take holidays and get a break from work. The right balance will ensure that you have a committed and enthusiastic staff that performs better when at work instead of looking for excuses to take sick days.

6-    Keep fit and healthy is also a key to staying on top in business. Exercising every day – a swim, a run or a game of tennis – gives you the energy necessary to tackle the everyday decisions.

7-    Live life to the fullest and take advantage of good home family and business family.

Business Rhythm:

If you’re not familiar with the term, business rhythm refers to the set of meetings that management has on its schedule to drive and manage the organization. Generally, it can be concluded that most executives spent too much time in meetings that were not appropriately focused or aligned with the organization’s goals and objectives.

In fact, some reports say that owners and managers spend as much as 60 percent of their time in meetings. While most of the time was spent on the things that mattered to the company, they didn’t perceive the meetings to be overly effective.

An organization needs to understand that working in tandem with its management team members, each meeting needs to be linked to a core process and that is linked to a key performance indicator (KPI.).

1-    In building an operating rhythm the organization needs to assign specific and measureable KPIs to ensure every member of the management team has the same understanding.

2-    Then management needs to tie each KPI to the core processes that will enable them to be achieved. Then, management must detail these core processes to the next level of granularity, describing:

  1. Sub-processes (process maps)
  2. Inputs and outputs
  3. Roles and responsibilities
  4. Meetings
  5. Frequency

3-    Business rhythms drive core processes, which drive different timescales or frequencies.

  1. Annual meetings are necessary to set targets and strategy, typically two-three days
  2. Quarterly meetings are necessary to review results and adjust the strategy, typically one day
  3. Monthly meetings are necessary to check and correct deviations, typically two-three hours
  4. Weekly  meetings are necessary to track and monitor execution, typically one hour

Businesses can make significant progress in achieving their right rhythm if every member of management aligns their meeting schedule to the organizational core processes so that the right amount of time is spent on the right topics with the right people.

Business Timing:

1- Notice the signals of timing hidden all around.

An idea whose time has almost come gives subtle—but unmistakable—hints, often even leaving behind a physical trail of its presence. Everyone can relate to this. Common sense processes to help us make decisions about when, how, and whether to proceed with certain projects.

2- Be in tune with the timing of potential partners.

If you are making a sales call or presenting a business proposal, it is best to avoid your customers’ resistive periods. Each customer has at least one, but it is up to you to learn when it is. For some, it could be Monday morning; for others, Friday afternoon This is the best time to reach him. (It also helps that by ï¬?ve-thirty, his assistant has gone home for the day and he answers his own phone.)

3. Be aware of the relationship between your objective and your timing.

You have to determine where your strengths lie. If it is in research and development, then you do want to be first to market. If you are best at controlling costs—and therefore can be the low-cost supplier—then you want to follow the leaders and undercut their prices. The point is to align your objective with timing.

4. Use your intuition to improve your timing.

Intuition is like a muscle; the more you use it, the better it will develop. Whenever possible, before trying to figure out” the right answer to a problem you’re facing, try to sense what to do.

Yes, skills, training, and education are helpful, but don’t underestimate the power of intuition. By definition intuition is the way we translate our experience into action. Our experience lets us recognize what is going on (making judgments) and how to react (making decisions.) Because our experience enables us to recognize what to do …we don’t deliberately have to think through issues to arrive at good decisions [quickly].”

5. Use common sense.

You can improve your personal timing by tapping into your personal intuition and by doing your homework. We may not be able to control timing, but we can improve it by supplementing our intuition with common sense and experience and then following up by executing our plans in an ethical (and timely) manner.


“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character.”